Higher pay, reasonably sized classrooms, more flexible class schedules and support -- these are the general categories where Arlington public school teachers would like to see improvements in next year's budget.
Eight teachers presented wishes for their colleagues as an estimated 25 people in the audience, most of them teachers, listened on Thursday, Dec. 18. So did the seven members of the School Committee as well as representatives of the administration.
Three art teachers made clear they would like to see improved class scheduling. Cindy Starks, chair of the budget subcommittee issues of scheduling and space are addressed "outside the budget process"; that is, by the administration.
The top issue -- pay -- was not discussed in specific terms, because it is a matter of ongoing contract negotiations.
Below is brief summary of the request from each teacher followed by responses from School Committee members.
Linda Hanson, Arlington Education Association (AEA) president, introduced the speakers. She said teachers would like to regain and surpass the level of service before the 2011 override. "For next year’s budget," she said, "teachers would like to see more attention paid to competitive compensation for teachers."
Siobhan Foley, who teaches third grade at Thompson, representing elementary instructors, expressed concern about class sizes and the increasing workload. "Their primary concern, however, is the fear of letting a child slip through the cracks," she said.
She said teachers would also like to see "a significant increase" in salaries. See the schedule of salaries under the current contract)
UPDATED, Dec. 22: The Arlington Catholic girls' hockey team begins its season ranked on top and has won its first three games, including a 3-1 victory Dec. 20 at St. Mary's. The opposing goal was the first scored this season on the Cougars.
The Arlington Catholic boys' basketball team won its season opener, beating Austin Prep, 65-47, on Sunday, Dec. 21, at home.
The AHS boys' hockey team has won its first two matches in the Middlesex (Liberty) League, the latest Dec. 20 over Melrose, 3-0.
The Arlington High Spy Ponders' boys' basketball team is undefeated after two games in the Middlesex (Liberty) League, including a 66-46 thrashing of Watertown on Dec. 19.
The synthetic turf at Arlington High's Peirce Field, bearing the abuse of student cleats in various sports since 2006, is wearing out and may be reaching the end of its useful life.
So the School Department has resubmitted its capital request for replacing the field covering, at an estimated cost $500,000.
Routine testing in early September by Turf Prep of Woburn resulted in a report late that month showing a passing grade, but indicating the surface was "quickly approaching" the point where it needed to be replaced, Melissa Dlugolecki, AHS director of athletics, told the School Committee on Dec. 4.
"We are right there pushing that [failing number]," she said.
Asked by YourArlington why test results were not reported until December, Dlugolecki said the issue was raised this month because the School Committee was hearing about budget issues, and this is a significant one.
Asked in a follow-up email whether students playing fall sports -- football and soccer -- faced safety issues on the worn turf, she wrote Dec. 11: "Based on recent testing, Peirce Turf remains in compliance with the safety guidelines established by the Synthetic Turf Council. Results indicate that the surface needs replacing shortly to remain within their guidelines. Subsequently, the high school increased the plan of care for the turf field to support longevity of use."
With the news this week that the state will not consider for a year helping to pay for the rebuilding of Arlington High School, school and town leaders have to consider replacing Peirce Field's turf.
The town's Capital Planning Committee had put the matter on hold in the light of work expected in the next few years on Arlington High, but that work is now one year later.
A 68-year-old Arlington driver accepted a not-guilty plea at his arraignment in the death of a 77-year-old Cambridge woman one year to the day after the collision at Mass. Ave. and Orvis Road in East Arlington.
Judge Roanne Sragow entered the plea for Paul S. Giragosian, charged with motor-vehicular homicide by negligent operation About 10 p.m. Dec. 19, 2013, Elba Ortiz-Delgado, known as "Lucy," of North Cambridge, was pushing a cart in a crosswalk near Sabatino's and was struck by a car driven by Giragosian. The victim was taken to Massachusetts General Hospital, where she later died.
Giragosian, appearing in Cambridge District Court in Medford for the arraignment on Friday, Dec. 19, was ordered to attend a pretrial hearing set for Wednesday, Feb. 11.
The judge ordered Giragosian to turn in his driver's license after it had been restored in error.
UPDATED, Dec. 19: The Arlington public school administration will reapply in 2015 for state funding to help rebuild the high school following rejection of the current application.
Superintendent Kathleen Bodie told the School Committee on Thursday, Dec. 18, that the renewed effort would note the schools' sharp increase in enrollment as well as the fact that certain building issues must be addressed soon.
The Nor'easter in November that brought prolonged rain led to "significant leaks" that caused some ceilings to crumble in science classrooms, she said.
"We had a barrel on the sixth floor [catching leaks] near my office," she said.
The chief reason that AHS did not make the first-year cut, she said, was the number of applicants, many from cities. Those applications attract higher reimbursement rates than those for suburban districts, and that draws down the total pool of available building funds.
The Massachusetts School Building Authority (MSBA) will not be including Arlington High School into the funding process for the current fiscal year but invites the town to apply for next year.
In an email to the high school community Tuesday, Dec. 16, Principal Matthew Janger reported news, which he called "disappointing."
UPDATED, Dec. 17: As Christmas nears, Walter Locke appears to be everywhere.
The reincarnation of a Thomas Nast Santa, the Arlington resident, longtime chorus member and first-time actor plays a key role in "The Christmas Revels" at Sanders Theatre in Cambridge.
If you ride the T, you see the Arlington resident on ads as you grab a subway strap or on the side of passing bus.
You can hear him in this interview broadcast on ACMi, where he used to work.
Globe review, Dec. 16 >>
In its annual effort to explore a different culture and era through its music and holiday rituals, the Revels this year goes inside the "Crystal Palace," the remarkable glass building in Victorian London, erected for the Great Exhibition of 1851. A frenzied producer, cheeky street performers, a composer and a palace manager (played by Locke) merge in a scheme to produce a Christmas performance fit for royalty.
It's a joyful problem, as the number of relatives attending holiday gatherings grow -- what to do about too many gifts?
An Arlington woman has found an answer: Use crowdsourced funding to aid the Jimmy Fund.
"I wanted to know what more we might do," Jamie Mendelsohn said. "We have everything we need and others don't. So how do we get together as a group and [address] that?"
She sought out to donation site DreamFund and targeted a longtime effort that battles cancer. The disease has affected members of her extended family, and, as it happens, Mendelsohn's grandfather, Irving Shapiro, led a group that founded the Jimmy Fund, in 1947.
Every year, Mendelsohn said in an interview Dec. 10, family members descend for the holidays to celebrate, an annual event for her since childhood. But the numbers are on the increase. In the photo at right, 24 people of all ages smile (Jamie is hiding on the left behind the white-haired man).
One result? "Too many presents," Jamie said, wondering, "How do you get them under control?"
Following Black Friday and Cyber Monday comes #GivingTuesday. Now that it's past, you may still consider making a donation to one of Arlington Health and Human Services' assistance programs/services:
The Arlington Food Pantry exists solely on the generous donations from individuals and local business. Online donations can be made by clicking here. Donations can also be made by check payable to: The Arlington Food Pantry, Health and Human Services, 27 Maple St., Arlington, MA 02476.
The Town of Arlington Heating Assistance Program has been helping Arlington families with home heating emergencies for many years thanks to the generous donations from local businesses and residents.